Russia: Iran Helps Keep Sochi Safe


January 12, 2014:   Several Islamic terrorist groups have said they will attack the Winter Olympics being held at Sochi in southern Russia beginning February 7 th . Russia has brought in 37,000 security personnel to make sure that does not happen. But Islamic terrorists have been successful at making attacks in vicinity of Sochi (southern Russia, bordering the Caucasus) and more Islamic terrorists have been detected (and some arrested) in the area.

Meanwhile in Syria continued Russian support for the Assads has prevented the UN from passing resolutions condemning the ongoing government attacks on civilians. These attacks have been more blatant in the last month, as have Syrian efforts to prevent foreign aid from reaching the cold, hungry and often wounded civilians. Most Syrian aircraft are Russian and Russia still provides parts and other supplies to keep these aircraft flying. The Russian government openly boasts (at least inside Russia) of how its backing of the Syrian government against a popular uprising was successful. The biggest success was Russia arranging a chemical weapons disarmament deal in Syria that crippled Western aid for the rebels and, along with thousands of Iranian supplied mercenaries, has the Syrian government on the offensive.

While Russia strongly opposes any foreign troops in Syria they are openly calling for foreign troops to remain in Afghanistan. That’s mainly because of the drugs, which are a major problem in Russia, and Islamic terrorists, which are more of a potential threat if Afghanistan ever again becomes a terrorist sanctuary.

Russia recently began testing the newly built prototypes of its new Kurganets 25 IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle). This vehicle will eventually replace all the existing BMP and BMD IFVs. The Kurganets 25 is unique in that it uses the same basic chassis and systems as the new tank and self-propelled artillery. This “universal combat platform” is called the Armata system and is currently being used for the construction of prototypes for the new T-99 tank. Still being designed is a new self-propelled artillery vehicle using Armata.

January 11, 2014:  In the south (300 kilometers from Sochi) police arrested five known Islamic radicals after they were caught with a crude bomb, which was disabled.

January 10, 2014: The government is negotiating a trade deal that will help Iran get around the international banking sanctions. To do this Russia will sell Iran goods in exchange for oil, instead of cash. Russia will then mix this oil in with its own and dare the world to refuse it as illegal Iranian oil. This could get interesting because oil can be identified according to its chemical characteristic that makes it possible to know which country, or even well, it came from. In effect, Russia is daring the world to try and stop it from helping Iran beat the sanctions. Russia has much to gain because of its close cooperation with Iran. For one thing, Iran has an excellent intel network in the Moslem world and apparently shares terrorist related items with Russia. Nearly all the Islamic terrorist activity against Russia is by Sunni groups, who also target Iran when they have a chance. Sunni Islamic radicals consider Shia heretics and worthy only of death. Russia also expects to have a good trade relationship with Iran once the current embargo is lifted. Then again that might not happen if the Iranian religious dictatorship falls and the new Iranian government is understandably hostile to those countries that helped keep the clerics in power.

January 9, 2014: In the south (Stavropol) police found four cars containing six men killed by gunfire. Three of the cars had bombs installed and set to go off if someone tried to get into the vehicles. This is an old terrorist trick. Only one of the cars exploded, and there were no injuries. Police issued an alert for the region to help find the Islamic terrorists responsible for this.

January 6, 2014: The Syrian government announced that henceforth Russian, along with French, will be the main foreign languages taught in secondary schools. 

January 5, 2014: The government reported that they had killed 260 Islamic terrorists in the Caucasus in 2013, versus 380 in 2012. Among the dead terrorists were 42 leaders. Security forces also seized 320 bombs during 70 raids down there. All this activity prevented twelve terrorist attacks and 62 other crimes (theft, intimidation, smuggling) the Islamic terrorists had planned. Despite the decline in terrorist activity in the Caucasus, that’s still a lot of violence for an area of 170,000 square kilometers (65,900 square miles). The Caucasus is hardly the largest source of Islamic terrorist violence in the planet and in fact accounts for only about two percent of the worldwide Islamic terrorism deaths. But for Russia it’s a major internal security problem, mainly because it’s relatively easy for Caucasus based terrorists to travel to other parts of Russia to conduct attacks. Russia been able to curb nearly most of those attempts in the last few years, but has been less successful in eliminating the terrorist bases and recruiting activities in the Caucasus.

December 31, 2013: Syrian officials publically thanked Russia, Iran and China for supporting the Assad government and making eventual victory over the Sunni rebels possible (although not guaranteed).

December 30, 2013: In the south (Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad) a bomb went off on a trolley and killed 17 people.  The government sent an additional 5,000 troops and police to the city and nearly a hundred arrests were made of people caught (at check points) with weapons or without ID.

In late 2013 The navy received the first of six Kilo diesel-electric subs for its Black Sea fleet. These Kilos are being built in the Baltic Sea (outside St Petersburg) and move to the Black Sea on their own. These new Kilos make a big difference in the Black Sea. That’s because back in 2009 the Russian Black Sea Fleet suffered a major blow when its only operational submarine, a 19 year old Kilo class boat, broke down at sea and limped back to port on partial power. The only other sub in the fleet was a 32 year old Tango class boat that was undergoing repairs and has since been scrapped.  During the Cold War, the Black Sea Fleet had thirty or more submarines.

December 29, 2013: In the south (Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad) a female suicide bomber set off her bomb while waiting to go through security at the main train station. This killed 17 people.  The last such attack in the city was in October 2013.

December 28, 2013: After numerous delays a Soyuz satellite launcher finally went up and put several satellites in orbit. Quality control in the Russian space program continues to be a problem.

December 27, 2013: In the Caucasus (270 kilometers south of Sochi) a car bomb killed three people.

December 26, 2013: In the Caucasus (Dagestan) an Islamic terrorist was cornered in a rural area. He fled to a house and was killed after a gun battle.

December 25, 2013: Russia made the usual year-end announcement of what new gear it expects the military to receive in the next year. Major items to be delivered include 40 new ICBMs and SLBMs, 210 aircraft and nearly 300 armored vehicles. There will be two new SSBNs (nuclear subs carrying SLBM ballistic missiles) and over a dozen surface ships (combat, amphibious and support). Russia will spend about $650 billion on procurement through 2020 and nearly a trillion dollars during this decade to replace Cold War era weapons and equipment.  Russia has taken another bold step in trying to deal with its inability to produce competitive weapons and military equipment. The latest move is to hold regular meetings between senior military and procurement officials and the most senior (as in president Putin himself) government officials. These frank discussions will let the top government officials know what problems are being encountered in the defense bureaucracy and the defense industries and what can be done to fix it. On the down side the senior defense and procurement officials will be fined and otherwise censured for failure to achieve goals agreed upon at these meetings. 

In late 2013 the Russian navy announced that plans to refurbish its nine Akula class SSNs (nuclear attack subs) would take longer than expected. In fact, the first Akula will be out of service for three years for the upgrade. The other eight subs will get done more quickly, but the entire job will take at least a decade and probably closer to fifteen years. The refurb involves replacing most if the wiring and electrical systems as well as the missile handling equipment. Many mechanical systems will be replaced of upgraded. The end result will be a much quieter sub and that’s very important in undersea warfare.

The government has signed deals with Russian firms to have the Russians explore for oil and gas off the coast and share in the profits from anything found there.

December 24, 2013: Russia agreed to give neighboring Belarus a $2 billion loan and the Belarus president-for-life promised that it would not be stolen by corrupt officials. He was not that blunt, but did say Belarus would not use up the loan for unexplained reasons, as has happened in the past. The Soviet era dictatorship in Belarus has managed to resist pressure to hold real (not rigged) elections. Public demonstrations are handled roughly. Russian leaders regularly call for Belarus to once more become a part of Russia. Many Belarussians see this as a viable option, but many do not, especially the small group getting rich by running the dictatorship. Meanwhile Belarus is largely still a part of the Russian economy.


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